01Dec 2014

Facebook is a business that makes its income through selling advertising. So it was unlikely that it would allow brands and companies a free ride for long when it came to directly promoting themselves through the social network organically. On top of this, to keep its user base happy, it’s important that it gives them more of what they want and less of what they’re not so keen on.

It should come as little surprise then that last month Facebook announced changes, which are aimed at reducing the amount of overtly promotional material that appears in people’s newsfeeds. In November 2014 the social giant announced in a ‘newsroom’ post (Facebook News Post) that from January, “People will see less of this type of content in their news feeds”.

Less promotional content in newsfeeds

The planned changes were apparently spurred on by a user survey which found that people, “wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.” Much of this promotional content, the survey found, was coming not from ads, but from brands that users had actively ‘liked’.

So what kind of posts exactly will be affected by the changes?  It seems it will be pretty much anything that directly tries to sell people a product or a promotional offer, without any other context and without providing any real value. Facebook has also stated that the algorithm update will target ‘posts that reuse the exact same content from ads.

A fresh opportunity to market your business differently

While some brands may be disappointed, effectively having a promotional channel taken away from them, there really is no need to fret about this change. The fact is that if a majority of users felt such posts were an intrusion on their newsfeeds, they probably weren’t doing much good anyway. That’s not to say that there’s no value in posting to Facebook – less overtly promotional posts which generate interest and are genuinely useful can be a powerful way to build your brand image. But content which tries to sell people things is better left to actual adverts.

So what is the way forward if you were previously relying on organic Facebook posts to promote your products and services? Try this four-pronged strategy:

  • Stick with Facebook – Don’t abandon your FB account entirely, but instead of going for the hard sell, use your presence there to engage with people and offer them content which is genuinely useful, informative or entertaining. Which is very much in line with what your website content strategy should be about.
  • Invest in PPC advertising – Whether on Facebook, Google Adwords or elsewhere. Because you only pay when someone actually chooses to click on your ad, this is a sound investment for businesses with limited digital marketing budgets.
  • Develop your content marketing and search engine optimisation strategies – Content can be a powerful thing if you position it in the right places. While PPC advertising can directly market your products, exceptional and useful content can help you to build a brand that people want to deal with. Not only this, it can drive additional traffic to your website and help you climb up the organic search rankings.
  • Understand who your target market may be and develop content accordingly. You will have those who respond to ads (what it says on the tin) type people; but also those that like to be educated, informed, and enlightened!


About Christian Garrington